Risk factors for anterior cruciate ligament injury: a review of the literature - part 1: neuromuscular and anatomic risk

Sports Health. 2012 Jan;4(1):69-78. doi: 10.1177/1941738111428281.

Abstract

Context: Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee are immediately debilitating and can cause long-term consequences, including the early onset of osteoarthritis. It is important to have a comprehensive understanding of all possible risk factors for ACL injury to identify individuals who are at risk for future injuries and to provide an appropriate level of counseling and programs for prevention.

Objective: This review, part 1 of a 2-part series, highlights what is known and still unknown regarding anatomic and neuromuscular risk factors for injury to the ACL from the current peer-reviewed literature.

Data sources: Studies were identified from MEDLINE (1951-March 2011) using the MeSH terms anterior cruciate ligament, knee injury, and risk factors. The bibliographies of relevant articles and reviews were cross-referenced to complete the search.

Study selection: Prognostic studies that utilized the case-control and prospective cohort study designs to evaluate risk factors for ACL injury were included in this review.

Results: A total of 50 case-control and prospective cohort articles were included in the review, and 30 of these studies focused on neuromuscular and anatomic risk factors.

Conclusions: Several anatomic and neuromuscular risk factors are associated with increased risk of suffering ACL injury-such as female sex and specific measures of bony geometry of the knee joint, including decreased intercondylar femoral notch size, decreased depth of concavity of the medial tibial plateau, increased slope of the tibial plateaus, and increased anterior-posterior knee laxity. These risk factors most likely act in combination to influence the risk of ACL injury; however, multivariate risk models that consider all the aforementioned risk factors in combination have not been established to explore this interaction.

Keywords: Anterior Cruciate Ligament; knee injury; risk factors.